Glance at anyone's status updates about this past year, and you'll see the verdict is in: 2016 has pretty much sucked. Perhaps there were some bright spots, but the overall picture is lunar deathscape gray. Still, remember when politics wasn't all doom and gloom? These are the activists to follow on Twitter in 2017 because in this time and place, we truly need them.
There's no need to beat around the bush here. These voices are more necessary than ever thanks to Donald Trump and his incoming administration. The entire Cabinet he has proposed is against the very progress that these people are working for. And Trump himself is against the media, attacking it any time they put forward views that contradict his own. We can hope that the press corps continue to cover opposing views, but Twitter could become the key place to connect to truly progressive viewpoints, as well as for the attempts at organizing protests or other types of resistance. So sign into your account, and get ready to hit "follow."
1) Cherno Biko
Cherno Biko is worth following for many reasons, not just for her insightful look at 2016. Biko is a trans woman who quit her job to bring attention to the plight of many transgender women of color, especially those whose deaths were not high-profile. Her message: black trans lives matter, too.
2) Alicia Garza
Man. This whole silly story about BLM setting race relations backwards. What exactly do y'all think has been happening since the 1700s?!— Love God Herself (@aliciagarza) July 25, 2016
Speaking of Black Lives Matters, Alicia Garza is one of the three co-founders of the movement. There are lot of work to do, and she's hoping that your follow turns into activism. "What it takes to get people from liking and sharing and retweeting to organizing is a hard and long process," Garza told The Guardian.
3) Opal Tometi
People of conscience are the majority. I pray one day we know how powerful we truly are & act on all of our convictions without apology.— Opal Tometi (@opalayo) August 17, 2016
Opal Tometi is another Black Lives Matters co-founder. Her tweets are insightful and her connections to the Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights brings an international focus to many of her arguments. Take this excerpt of an interview she gave to The Nation to get an idea of her powerful message:
4) Patrisse Cullors
I want us to have a global strategy so bad. I wake up thinking about it and I go to sleep thinking about it. #GlobalStrategyAgainstFascism— patrisse cullors (@osope) December 21, 2016
The queer, third, and final co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Cullors also has had an international focus to her tweets as of late and is focused on finding a strategy against fascism, which she argues is the direction many Western countries are headed.
5) Dan Savage
And not to put too fine a point on it... but that "new king" was an immigrant child fleeing persecution at hands of an authoritarian tyrant. https://t.co/U1D687crHl— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) December 25, 2016
Dan Savage, considered by many as a sex columnist, tweets about far more than that. A brilliant, sardonic wit helps Savage make progressive points on a number of issues on LGBTQIA rights and beyond. His staff at The Stranger has also promised to be a voice in the fight against Trump's right-wing policies.
6) Gloria Steinem
We will not mourn, we will organize. Maybe we are about to be free. https://t.co/C1f5uEq72X— Gloria Steinem (@GloriaSteinem) November 10, 2016
Gloria Steinem is another familiar name on the list, and that's because she's been a feminist activist for decades. This isn't the first Republican administration she's organized against, and she's a great resource — including on Twitter — for the next generation.
7) Gabe Ortíz
How fragile is your masculinity that you won't even let yourself enjoy some damn ice cream? *sips from Cher mug*— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) December 27, 2016
Tweeting about a ton of intersectional issues, Gabe Ortíz is someone you have to follow. He's dedicated in his professional life to immigrants' rights, but his tweets run the gamut and are sure be truthful and honest no matter who's honest. His promise? "In 2017 I promise to keep pissing off my haters."
8) Shelby Knox
A reading list created by a group of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Muslim, and Jewish organizer's for Trump's America https://t.co/BSXkuf4Ebd— Shelby Knox (@ShelbyKnox) December 5, 2016
An organizer and activist, Shelby Knox is a must-follow feminist. She's connecting anti-Trump thinkers online and sharing important resources. Originally from Texas, she's got a lot of insight into the abstinence-only, religious right that progress is up against.
9) Amanda Quraishi
Dear 2017,— Amanda Quraishi (@ImTheQ) December 23, 2016
I'm coming for you. This will be your only warning.
The Q pic.twitter.com/sd3FZFgyaq
10) Janet Mock
Another key transgender activist is Janet Mock. She's written and produced trans issues into cultural consciousness of many by sharing her own story. One recent can't-miss project is her HBO Documentary The Trans List.
11) Peter Staley
The Resistance has started in NYC— Peter Staley (@peterstaley) December 17, 2016
Lessons for fighting a demagogue, from the people who survived a plague: https://t.co/nNhDet6SkH
Peter Staley got his start as an AIDS activist in groups like ACT UP, which fought for government funding for HIV research and access to anti-retroviral drugs. His days of activism may be more of a resource than ever imagined. And he's not afraid to get into it with Democratic politicians.
12) Jose Antonio Vargas
One of the key voices of the DREAMers, Jose Antonio Vargas is not afraid to take a stand for what is right. Trump's presidency could endanger those who currently benefit from President Obama's DACA program — a reality Vargas is familiar with since he was too old to qualify for the program to give immigrants who arrived as children work papers. In 2014, after attending a vigil in Texas for unaccompanied minors, he was apprehended at the border by immigration authorities, and he remains without a path to citizenship or even legal residency. And he's very vocal about it, including on Twitter.
13) Feminista Jones
There is no one more powerful than someone who knows how great they are— My Prez Is Still Blk (@FeministaJones) December 26, 2016
Feminista Jones is very active on Twitter, and her tweets are a mix of the day-to-day with some really insightful stuff. Her views tend to make you think, and they're always backed up by facts. Take her argument to keep Harriet Tubman off the $20 bill as an example. She'll make you think.
14) Chelsea Clinton
Her mom may have lost the election, but Chelsea Clinton remains a voice amplifying women from around the world and the fight for gender equality. Through her work at the Clinton Foundation, she is sure to remain engaged in the issues that she and her parents have championed since Bill left the White House.
15) Dr. Adrienne Keene
Just a general comment: if you don't know anything about a topic, it's perfectly acceptable to not. weigh. in.— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) December 27, 2016
The No DAPL protests have been successful — at least, it seems so for now — but there are many more issues facing Native Americans around the United States. Dr. Adrienne Keene is a Cherokee Nation professor and active Twitter user. Follow her to learn things from the past and present about our country's relationship with and treatment of Native Americans. For example, "December 26, 1862: Abraham Lincoln hanged 38 Dakota men in Mankato, MN. The largest mass execution in US history." I sure didn't known that, and we really should.
16) Jessica Pierce
I should start every morning with calls/videos with young black organizers. It's a meditation in itself to be in deep community with folks.— Jessica Pierce (@JFierce) November 14, 2016
Jessica Pierce is training the next wave of black leaders in her role as national co-chair of Black Youth Project 100, utilizing "a Black queer feminist lens." Pierce posts about it a lot on Twitter, in addition to posts about her life that you can surely relate to.
17) Favianna Rodriguez
Let's teach youth to consume less, to reuse, to cook, to love themselves, to protect Mother Earth, and to choose love over hate. pic.twitter.com/xce2hjra7v— favianna rodriguez (@favianna) December 18, 2016
Favianna Rodriguez is an artist and activist tweeting her artwork, articles, and thoughts about the progressive world that she'd like to see come to be.
18) Lena Dunham
If any of us were smart we'd wear helmets and knee pads for the rest of 2016 just cuz who the fuck knows— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 14, 2016
Perhaps activist is not the first word you think of associated with Lena Dunham, but she has shown time and again that she is. Her art, Lenny Letter, and Twitter account are all avenues to further her version of feminism. Take the recent controversy over her abortion comments as proof that she's always pushing the conversation along.
19) Janet Murguía
Another key voice against any potential Trump mass deportation plan will be Janet Murguía. She's the president of National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights organization in the country. "Our economy would lose millions of dollars if DACA is eliminated. The social cost would be incalculable," she tweeted just before the holidays. These are the kinds of truths we must be reminded of.
20) Bill McKibben
Hmm. Green line is the average Arctic temperature. Red line is this year's temperature. Something seems a little different. pic.twitter.com/hVhDZ2cpjE— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) December 21, 2016
Given Trump's picks for the EPA, Department of Energy, and even State Department make it clear we need to be worried about Mother Earth too. Bill MicKibben is a big-time environmental activist. He won't let us forget the importance of fighting climate change, even if the president isn't sure it exists.
21) April Reign
#OscarsSoWhite is about ensuring that marginalized communities get to tell their stories. On TV, on stage, in film. Because they matter.— April (@ReignOfApril) December 24, 2016
The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag took Twitter by storm, and it all began with April Reign, one of the leading voices of Black Twitter. She won't be afraid to tell it like it is regarding Trump: "Trump seems more concerned about one day: his Inauguration party, than the four years that follow. Which proves it's all for show. God help us all."
22) Mariame Kaba
When doing a power analysis in organizing, you map your opponents, your allies, and your resources. Dem leadership are opponents right now.— #FreeBresha (@prisonculture) December 17, 2016
Anti-prison activist Mariame Kaba has long focused on fighting the prison-industrial complex in the United States, as well as violence against minority communities. She's also focused on national politics, and is arguing that Democrats have to obstruct the Trump agenda — but that they only will if pushed by the public.
23) Prerna Lal
Be vigilant about protecting civil rights and liberties, regardless of who is trampling on them.— Prerna P. Lal, Esq. (@prernaplal) December 9, 2016
Prerna Lal is an attorney at the UC Berkeley Undocumented Student Program and the East Bay Community Law Center. Her tweets and activism regularly are focused on immigration. Originally from Fiji, she was in removal proceedings until the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down and she could get papers through her partner.
24) Delores Huerta
The rights of workers could become a target under Trump: His pick to head the Department of Labor is a critic of raising the minimum wage. Dolores Huerta has spent her life organizing migrant farmworkers. We can learn plenty from her.
25) Linda Sarsour
"We can disagree & still love each other, unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression & denial of my humanity and right to exist."— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) November 11, 2016
A Palestinian American from Brooklyn, Linda Sarsour is a Muslim, feminist, racial justice, and civil rights activist. She works as the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and is active on Twitter, sharing her activism freely with her followers.
26) Danielle Muscato
27) Chris Goldstein
Rather than fly politicians to CO to see some legal marijuana, we just brought some to their DC office = advocacy on a working-class budget.— Chris Goldstein (@freedomisgreen) December 17, 2016
When you reconnect to social media after your holiday break, go through and follow these individuals. These are just some of the huge number of activists across the United States that are worth engaging with and listening to — and not just online. Plug yourself in and you'll have plenty to be grateful for this time next year, even if Trump's president.